Choosing the right fruit trees for your climate is an important step in deciding what to grow in your garden. Before you head to the nursery, do a little research to determine which fruit you enjoy that will thrive in your growing zone. You want to make sure you select something you will eat and enjoy!
Grow Your Own Mini Fruit Garden by Christy Wilhelmi of Gardenerd is a really helpful resource for growing fruit trees and shrubs both in containers and in small spaces. This particular excerpt, reprinted with permission from Cool Springs Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group, will help you assess your growing area and set you up for successful future harvests.
How to determine the right fruit trees for your climate
Whether you are a novice or an experienced gardener, the first rule applies to everyone: Choose cultivars best suited to where you live. After all, the goal is an abundant fruit garden, right? Planting a fruit tree that is appropriate for your growing region, microclimate, and chill hours is the key to success. What a shame it would be to plant a tree, and then wait five, ten, even fifteen years and never see a single fruit. It has been known to happen but is far less likely to occur if you choose the right varieties for your climate. Let’s dive into the checklist of fruit tree qualifications.
Hardiness zones run close to the latitude lines of our planet, grouping areas with similar temperature averages and frost dates into specific zones. These zones reveal the average extreme minimum temperature both in degrees Fahrenheit and degrees Centigrade. In other words, they tell you how cold it gets in each zone.
Hardiness zones start with zone 1 at the poles, with an average minimum temperature of below -50°F [-45.5°C] and increases in warmth toward the equator to zone 13, with lows around 59°F [15°C]. Seed catalogs and nurseries use hardiness zones to alert gardeners to the specific fruit trees and shrubs that will grow best in their zone. Some companies won’t sell live plants to regions outside of recommended hardiness zones, or they will waive replacement guarantees before shipping. Berries and fruit trees that are “not frost tolerant” are best suited to warm-winter climates.
For example, an avocado tree is generally listed as being safe to grow in zones where the average minimum temperatures don’t fall below 10°F [-12°C]. If you live where winter temperatures drop to -10°F [-23°C], you might want to skip planting an avocado tree. Or if you’re adventurous, grow it in a well-insulated greenhouse sited where it gets plenty of full sun, surrounded by drums of water (which will keep greenhouses warmer in winter) and see what happens.
Every continent across the globe has its own system of hardiness zones. Ask your local nursery to help you determine your zone in your respective country.
Fruits for chilly places
If you live in a northern (or southern in the southern hemisphere) or mountainous region, consider growing apples, cane berries, cherries, currants, pears, and stone fruits. They have high chill hour requirements that won’t be a concern where you live.
Image: Pears are ideal fruit trees for cold-winter climates.